RDAs 'slow down tech transfer'

March 14, 2003

Excessive bureaucracy in Regional Development Agencies is threatening to slow down knowledge transfer, universities warned the Lords science and technology committee this week.

The government's white paper calls for institutions to become more closely embedded in their regional economies through strong relationships with RDAs. But knowledge transfer experts from six universities told the committee that the agencies had not "engaged" sufficiently with their needs.

One problem that the panel highlighted was a tendency for RDAs to dwell on strategy rather than pursuing definite action.

Christopher Padfield, director of corporate liaison at Cambridge University, said the agencies should be interpreting strategy about university knowledge transfer, rather than directing it. "The people who lead this should be the leading researchers, the people who are making the waves," he said.

Caroline Quest, director of knowledge transfer at King's College London, said that there was a danger an RDA could intervene too much in relationships between universities and industry, potentially distorting them.

She warned that knowledge transfer experts were being pulled in too many directions. "There's a plethora of organisations and schemes, and knowledge transfer resource in universities is often less than 1 per cent. At King's College it's 0.6 per cent. There aren't enough people to dance to everyone's tune," she said.

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